Shifting Winds

In this short unit on wind, students explore what causes wind and the question “Are wind patterns changing as the climate warms?” then create an infographic to explain changes to the general public.

Context for Use

In this lesson, students will explore the question, "Are winds changing at the foot of the Rocky Mountains?"

  • Lesson 1 – (45 minutes) Why does wind matter? ​​​​​​Students examine both global and local wind data in the Global Wind Atlas to look for large-scale patterns in areas that are windy.


  • Lesson 2 – (45 minutes) What makes a region windy? Students watch a video on what wind is and why some areas are windier than others. Students then analyze local seasonal wind data and apply their knowledge to explain the seasonality in wind storms


  • Lesson 3 – (45 minutes) Is it getting windier? Students look local data at how wind patterns are changing over time and compare that to local anxiety about strong wind. Students then create a public-facing infographic to explain changing local wind conditions. 
A white wind turbine turns in front of green and tan mountains. There are dried tall grasses in the foreground.

A wind turbine at the National Wind Technology Center south of Boulder, Colorado. Credit: CIRES

Teaching Materials

User note: To make an editable copy of the teaching materials in Google Drive, select File > “Make a copy”. This will make a copy for you to save to your own drive and edit as you see fit.

Shifting Wind Teacher Guide
Shifting Wind Slides
Shifting Wind Student Handout 1
Shifting Wind Student Handout 2
Shifting Wind Student Handout 3
Illustration of two people high-fiving in a work environment

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